cPanel Version 88 is now here. cPanel is my preferred control panel for managing a web server, mostly because it’s what I’ve been used to using for years. When I moved to my own dedicated server with Blacknight earlier this year, this was the easiest decision to make. Blacknight offers cPanel for its VPS/Cloud and dedicated hosting customers. 

I installed cPanel 88 on my server a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve now given it a thorough test drive, so I thought I’d summarise what’s new and if it’s worth updating.   

My verdict so far: it’s fine. But mostly you should upgrade because webmail has been upgraded. I’ll explain more below.  

New Roundcube 1.4 

To me, as an end-user who is not very technical, this is the best reason to upgrade to cPanel 88. For years cPanel has shipped with the ‘old’ version of the Roundcbube open-source webmail client. Which, personally, I’ve hated. It was stuck in the web of 10 years ago. It wasn’t responsive, and it was just… ugly. cPanel 88 changes that by upgrading the webmail to the newer version of Roundcube which is now at 1.4. It has a pretty new interface (which you have to switch on). It’s responsive. It behaves more like we’re used to webmail behaving. Overall, I like it quite a lot and could now actually be persuaded to move a lot of my own email away from Google Apps to my own server’s email.  If you only need one reason to upgrade to cPanel 88 – upgrade for this reason: much better webmail. They’ve also added support for the Calendar and Contacts server plugin. The CCS plugin allows your cPanel users to manage their CalDAV (calendar) and CardDAV (contacts) accounts from your cPanel & WHM server, which all works seamlessly with Roundcube. 

ImunifyAV Malware Checker 

This is the second biggest reason to upgrade – all cPanel Installs now include ImunifyAV, which will continuously scan your server for malware. It has a pretty handy interface that scans your files and tells you exactly where compromised files are. It’s a good tool to have in your security arsenal and you can, of course, opt not to turn it on at all if you don’t want it running in the background. You also have the option of upgrading to the ‘Plus’ version for $45 a month that includes more protections. It found a few problem files on my server that I didn’t even know about so I’ve added fixing those to my server maintenance todo list. 

MySQL Version 8 

While it seems like everyone and their brother is switching to MariaDB these days (functionally, they’re pretty much the same), MySQL is still critical for a lot of web applications, and cPanel 88 now offers the latest version. It just adds support for it – you don’t HAVE to upgrade. In fact, I’m still running MySQL 5.7. I’m hesitant to upgrade as when I’ve messed with MySQL in the past; things tend to break. I don’t have time to fix broken websites right now. I’ll upgrade when I have to 

Performance Improvements 

The team behind cPanel has also worked to improve the performance of the software altogether. It’s now faster and takes less server resources to run.  This is only a good thing, and I can report that my server is a bit snappier, so I’m pleased. There are thousands of little updates that have been made. If you’re curious about them all, you can read the release logs here 

If you want to upgrade to cPanel 88, you can do it yourself from your WHM interface with one click. Eventually, all new installs by Blacknight will have it by default. If you’re a dedicated hosting customer with a managed plan, get in touch with customer support here to have us upgrade for you. You probably don’t even have to restart your server (but if you haven’t run updates in a while, you might have to). But I should warn you, always, always, make a whole server backup and store it remotely before you attempt a major upgrade like this (and we can help with that!). Better safe than sorry! It took me longer to get my backups sorted than it did to install the upgrade and test it out.  

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